171 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-7773

David Chang put Momofuku Noodle Bar smack in the middle of ramen central. The East Village. There are at least six others (Ramen Setagaya and Kambi are two right down the block) in the area, so competition is fierce. Still, he's clearly doing well. There's always a line, unless you arrive either very late or very early, and the other night was no exception. We waited about a half hour to squeeze into the small space and dine shoulder to shoulder with fifty other people.

Seating at Momofuku Noodle Bar is either at the bar or at communal tables. Bro and I found ourselves at communal tables. You sit on low stools, so there's no place to put your coat except in your lap. Or just leave it on. Many folks did. Or if you're like me, just give up and let it fall on the floor by your feet. If you're lucky, you won't have to sit near the front door, which becomes a de facto waiting room, people literally leaning on the large glass windows, hovering over other patron's bowls of soup. Regardless of where the staff does seat you, expect to be bumped into rather constantly. But eventually, when the food comes, you might be like me and feel that it actually might all be worth it... despite having to sit within earshot of not one, but two groups of irritating hipster foodies dissecting their meal, managing somehow to both praise the food they ordered and condescend it at the same time. Ugh.

Bro and I started with the Brisket Buns, which were flat-out amazing. If you've ever had the takeout Chinese spare-ribs, then that's what the meat tasted like, only heartier, boneless, and with about four thousand times the flavor. The only problem that I had with the dish was that the horseradish mayo that they used was a little excessive. Half as much would have been perfect. We also ordered the Grilled Octopus, a small salad-like dish of octopus, kimchi, citrus and a little arugula. This was also delicious, but small. If you like octopus, you'll wonder how you inhaled it so quickly. If you don't like octopus, then the odds are you'll suddenly start liking it.

Of course, the point of going to a noodle bar is the noodles and so Bro and I both ordered some ramen soups. Momofuku also has noodle dishes without the broth, but it was cold out and soup seemed more appropriate. Bro ordered the Momofuku Ramen, a traditional-style pork broth ramen soup with pork, cabbage, a whole poached egg, seaweed and a little narutomaki garnish (the pink spiraly fish cake thingy).  I ordered the Mushroom Ramen, noodles in a rich mushroom broth with a variety of mushrooms, a poached egg, some greens and again the seaweed and narutomaki. Bro, who doesn't like mushrooms for some freakish reason, did like this soup. As did I. And we both enjoyed the traditional ramen soup as well. But as good as they are, two things must be done to make them truly spectacular. Break the egg and let the yolk drain into the broth, and then add a healthy dose of thick hot sauce. Suddenly it goes from "hey, this ain't bad" to downright addictive. The bowls of soup are giant. I tried, but failed at finishing mine. There's just too much. 

Two beers, two appetizers, and two bowls of ramen, plus tax and tip came to $86. It's not "cheap" but you don't leave hungry either.

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